Taine, H. A. History of English Literature, 4 vols in 8, complete (Edinburgh Limited Edition); Translated from the French by H. Van Laun, One of the Masters at the Edinburgh Academy. Philadelphia | London: The Gebbie Publishing Co. | Chatto & Windus, 1897. Edinburgh Limited. 
No. 259 of 500 sets printed.
Eight books in gray cloth with silver titles & decoration, each 6 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches, top page edges gilt, rest deckled. This is an ex college library set, labels removed from spines, ink name stamps and ink numbers on all of the title pages, a few text pages with the name stamps as well. There is a date due slip at the back of each volume; no card pockets or bookplates. These books once had paper wrappers added by the library, which preserved the bindings quite well, but left shadows from the cello tape that held them in place, light on the bindings, dark on the end papers. The set takes up about 11 inches of shelf space. Good. Hardcover.
Each volume with portrait frontispieces and additional portrait plates, 65 total in the set.
Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine (1828-1893), French philosopher, historian, and critic, "one of the most-esteemed exponents of 19th-century French positivism. He attempted to apply the scientific method to the study of the humanities...The celebrated “Introduction” to the Histoire gives a succinct statement of Taine’s approach to literary and cultural history and a basic text for the understanding of his scientific attitude to literary criticism. The same great causal factors underlie any cultural artifact of a given age and society, he claims. By studying the literary documents, one may understand the psychology of their author, and this, complemented by scrutiny of the facts of his life and personality, illuminates the faculté maîtresse, the predominant characteristic that determines his work; this in turn can then be “explained” by reference to three great conditioning facts: la race, le milieu, and le moment—i.e., the writer’s inherited personality, his social, political, and geographical background, and the historical situation in which he writes. It is evident that Taine’s interest here is less in literature itself than in historical causation and psychology, and his method may well be thought to have encouraged in his admirers an excessive preoccupation with biography and literary history at the expense of critical judgment, though Taine’s own abilities as a critic were considerable." - Encyclopedia Britannica online.